Friday, December 20, 2013

Automotive sensors test

Today’s vehicles, whether a concept car or your commuter, are choke full of sensors and controls.  In the idealized world of the car designers these sensors and controls totally and completely monitor and control all the functions of the vehicle at all times.  Any problem will be reported in error codes.  Their subsequent remedies are detailed in service procedures.  Still for designer or servicer alike, sometimes these sensor inputs need to be verified.  One may want to have an actual temperature measurement, or a sensor voltage reading independent of the diagnostic system.
One of Agilent’s customers, Tracy, is a design engineer for automotive sensors and controls systems.  He helps us understand some of the challenges working with a vehicle platform.  In particular, there is a hard divide between the engine and the passenger compartment.  There are no port holes or service doors.  There is no easy way to run test leads, wires or thermocouples from the engine to the driver, so that he can see how the temperature or voltage behaves as the vehicle is driven through different conditions.


[Caption:  a thermocouple, blue wire, inside the engine compartment.  In an actual measurement, the wire will terminate inside the airbox, for  example, and not be visible to the camera.]

[Caption:  a connector where voltage measurement can be taken with test leads, or back probe pins.]

Using the Agilent WRC (wireless remote connectivity) meter, Tracy now can access the measurements inside the passenger compartment wirelessly.  It is simple and painless.  The thermocouple or test leads are connected to an Agilent handheld multimeter, which is secured inside the engine compartment with the hood closed.  The measurement results are transmitted via a Bluetooth adaptor to an Android tablet (or phone) inside the passenger compartment.  The Android app is free from Agilent or Google Play Store.  It takes only a few clicks to get going, much easier than any other alternatives.

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